Solution could be simple for shaky engine

Q: I have a 2003 Honda Accord EX 44cylinder with 137,000 miles. My problem or concern is when lugging at 1,500 to 1,800 RPMS, the engine feels like it has a miss and the engine shakes. If I give it a little more gas pedal, it goes away. I changed the plugs which did not fix the problem. This problem has existed for years; the Honda dealer couldn't figure it out. Any ideas or known problems with this model and year?

— T.H., Whitehall, Pa.

A: Chances are there is not an engine misfire. If there had been, the onboard diagnostics would have noticed it and set a code P0300 (ransom misfire) or P0300 – P0304 depending on the cylinder at fault. If your car has a manual transmission, lugging the engine can cause the springs in the clutch disk to dither. Don't lug the engine.

Q: Please let me give T.K. of Elgin a proper answer. I have 40 years experience in industrial electric motors and controls. Three-phase AC motors, which are the type used in electric cars, use significantly less electrical power than DC motors. AC motors are far less expensive to make, maintain, and replace. An AC motor is also much lighter in weight than a DC motor of the same horsepower. Most modern machines are powered by AC motors driven by inverter controllers, also known as variable frequency drives or VFD's. Vector type drives give control characteristics that are absolutely mind-blowing. Industrial VFD's convert AC to DC and then convert the DC back to AC. Automotive VFD's do not have to convert AC to DC first, so they are a bit simpler. In the modern world, VFD control of AC motors is the most efficient way to do things.

— R.L., Streamwood, Ill.

A: Thanks for educating us. Let's hope there are enough geeks reading today's column to appreciate your explanation.

Q: Our family recently bought two new Toyotas at a big Toyota dealer in my area. When the new Corolla was delivered, the Monroney sticker was not in the window. I asked the salesman for it and he said that the delivery crew had gotten rid of it. I told him the Monroney sticker can only be removed by the new car owner. He said no and a few days later, he called me and say he had a sticker, but gave me only a printout. A few more days later, he called again and handed me a brand new Monroney Sticker with VIN and features, like the original one. Is it against the law to remove such sticker from a window by someone other than the new owner?

— V.C., Palatine, Ill.

A: Jim Mateja answered a similar question in this paper a few years ago. He stated: "Forgetting to get the Monroney label is one thing; being refused the label is another and violates federal law. As a service to their customers, many dealers remove the Monroney label, which lists standard and optional equipment, prices, fuel-economy rating, freight charge and where the car was built, and give it to the customer at delivery. In doing so, they are violating the law because, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which is empowered to enforce Monroney label violations, federal law requires that the window sticker 'may be removed only by the purchaser.' "If you suspect fraud, contact the FTC Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.

Q: In response to the question on 8/3/13 in the Hartford Courant of low oil level in 2008 Toyota RAV4. Our 2007 RAV4 had a similar problem around the same mileage. We reported it to the dealer and they set up to do an oil consumption test over a few weeks. They verified that it was using excessive oil. This is a common problem with these and can be found out by doing a little internet research. The dealer had to replace the rings. That eliminated the problem and no more losing oil. We traded it in at about 106,000 miles. Luckily we had an extended warranty on it and didn't cost us anything.

— B.B., East Haddam, Conn.

A: The catalytic converter does a good job of converting hydrocarbons into water vapor and carbon dioxide. It is designed to prevent unburned fuel from exiting the tail pipe, but also converts oil. But if left unchecked for too long, the converter will be damaged.

Q: My 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe has 29,000 miles with no brake issues. At 22,000 miles the dealer wanted to charge $155 to lube the calipers which I declined. He said the Santa Fe's were known to have issues with the calipers.

— M.M., Chicago

A: There was a recall for rear calipers, but it was for brake fluid leakage and involved less than 2,000 vehicles. Lubrication wouldn't help that. If the calipers fail to slide properly on their supports, the brakes could stick, make noise or prematurely wear the pads. You did not mention any of these problems. All the tech has to do is remove the calipers, lightly sand the contact areas and apply a thin coat of grease.

Q: I was recently in my Hyundai dealership and I was told it was time for the 15,000 mile check up. If I didn't get it, it would void the warranty. The cost was $279. I know I can get the same items checked elsewhere for much less but would that void the warranty? It is a 2012 Hyundai Sonata. — G.J., Chicago

A: According to our source, the 15,000 mile inspection is very simple. It includes checking the A/C refrigerant, air filter, drive shaft boots, exhaust system, suspension bolts and vacuum hoses. Most of this stuff is simple eyeball inspection. The tires should also be rotated. Any shop can do this and, no, it will not void your warranty.

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